Wednesday, May 25

Kyle Busch Adding to the Resume

With his victory in Sunday night’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch added plenty of new numbers to his already thick racing resume with some ties to a couple of NASCAR’s all-time greats.

 

For starters, it was Busch’s 60th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, which is ninth on the all-time list and 16 wins behind Dale Earnhardt’s 76 all-time wins, which is eighth on the list.

 

Additionally, it gave Busch at least one win for the 18th consecutive season to tie a record held by another NASCAR legend – Richard Petty. That puts Busch in position to eclipse Petty’s mark in 2023.

 

With his first win of the season secured and a playoff spot all but assured, Busch will now head to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with the familiar green colors of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) founding partner Interstate Batteries returning to the Las Vegas native’s No. 18 Toyota Camry TRD for the second time this season. Interstate Batteries has a long history not only in the sport, but winning in the sport, as well. The company is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2022 while also reaching an impressive milestone of 31 years as a team sponsor at JGR.

 

Busch would like nothing more than to add to the winning history of Interstate Batteries. NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte, along with a future Hall of Famer in Busch, have combined to win 30 races in the green, Interstate-themed No. 18 car for JGR.

 

To bring home another victory for Interstate Batteries is always tricky at the mammoth 2.66-mile Talladega track, where Busch has found fortune both good and bad. With lessons learned during his 18 seasons on the tour, the two-time Cup Series champion knows anything can happen at Talladega, where one lap, or even one corner, could change a driver’s fortunes quickly.

 

He has conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. The Las Vegas native knows the winner of Sunday’s 500-mile race will need to have a strong car and some good fortune at the longest track on the schedule, where the potential for huge, multiple-car accidents is always a possibility.

 

With Interstate Batteries back on board this weekend, Busch will look to keep adding to his resume and continue to break records, as he has during his successful 15-year run with his longtime sponsor on board, and continue the success Interstate Batteries has enjoyed in its 31 years with JGR.

 

 

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

 

What does it mean to tie Richard Petty by winning at least once in 18 consecutive seasons?

 

“To me, it’s a long time, 18 years. The biggest thing to me is just having that opportunity and being thankful for my chances with Joe Gibbs Racing, Joe, Coy, everybody at Interstate Batteries and M&M’S having my back over this long of a time, keeping me in the seat. But a lot of different people to work with, a lot of different cars we’ve gone through, a lot of things that we have done and won races in during those years. With how we’ve struggled, how our year has been this year, did we deserve to win Sunday night at Bristol? Yeah, I mean, we ran up front all night, we were in contention, that was great. I’ll take that. We’ve got a lot of work to do to win more races and be in contention each and every week. I say all this because, yes, the 18 (consecutive seasons with at least one win) is important, but I feel like I’m in the prime of my career and I would love to be running up front and dominating and winning races and contending for championships. That’s our ultimate goal.”

 

What is the key to pulling off a victory at Talladega?

 

“The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble, and hope we can do that with our Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry TRD. You stay where the pack is, generally, and we get up single file on the wall at times until it’s time to go, and you can pretty much run wide open every single lap. Everyone can run up on top of each other. When you get single file at the bottom, sometimes it’s hard to get a lane on the outside with enough good cars to get something going. It can be frustrating at times because of that. It also seems to still put on a good race each time we go there. If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race. Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that’s when it starts to get crazy.”

 

Is it an advantage being a former winner at Talladega?

 

“It doesn’t matter at all. It’s such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what’s going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from.”

 

Do you try and duplicate what worked at Talladega before?

 

“Yeah, I think so. I mean, there are obviously times when you feel like you want to push hard and go get a win or go get a better finish than where you’re currently running. But, you know you’ve just got to do what you can in order to let these races kind of fall into place, and sometimes it’s just worth taking the finish that’s coming to you and moving on and going to the next one. It doesn’t always help to push too hard, either, at times. There’s a balance there, for sure. It can also help to just sit back, relax and finish where you can, so we’ll see how it plays out for us. You just hope you have enough Toyotas running up front at the end to get any help. That’s what it comes down to a lot at Talladega, getting the help from your teammates, since it’s hard to do that on your own.”

 

What can a driver still control at Talladega?

 

“You kind of look at what Denny (Hamlin) does and what Brad (Keselowski) does, the guys who are good racers at Daytona and Talladega and the guys who are fast at those places. Denny makes the most out of what he’s got for equipment, and I’ve got the same stuff and I’m not quite as forceful in situations as he is, and he makes that work for him. I won’t try to put myself in a bad spot to cause something, but it’s always a challenge and it’s always different. I feel like, every time you go to Talladega it’s the same, but it’s different and you just don’t know what to expect. A lot of new drivers who are out there don’t have wins, yet, in our series who are going to be hungry and looking for wins. So they’re going to be trying to punch their ticket to the playoffs and be very aggressive. You’ve got to be mindful of that, too.”

 

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